Presentation on theme: "By Teresa Onstott. According to dicitonary.com, religion is a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe, esp. when considered."— Presentation transcript:
By Teresa Onstott
According to dicitonary.com, religion is a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe, esp. when considered as the creation of a superhuman agency or agencies, usually involving devotional and ritual observances, and often containing a moral code governing the conduct of human affairs. The Igbo were exposed to Christian missionary activity since 1841 and by the mid-twentieth century, most Ibo adopted Christianity faith although some stayed to traditional practices that involved three “supernatural beings”: God, the spirits, and the ancestors (Igbo Religion) Some types of gods according to “The Ancient Igbo: Igbo Dictionary” are: “CHINEKE” (also known as Chukwu) is the Greatest of the Great Chi “IGWE”: the great father god “ANYANWU”: the sun god “AMADIOHA”: the thunder and lightning god “EKWENSU”: the trickster god “CHI”: the soul of mankind (Ancient Igbo)
Christianity Monotheism-belief of one God: one supreme creator of the heavens and the earth that is named God God cannot be seen God is eternal Monogamy- one wife When a man and women marry, they become united in Christ as one If the Lord saves the soul from sin, they will live in heaven with God. Bury the bodies of the deceased in the ground but believe the soul goes to heaven if they have accepted God in their heart. Polytheism-belief of more than one god: various such as Ani, Agbala, and the name of god as Chukwu Gods can be seen Gods are alive Animate gods such as carve wood, the Oracle of the Hills and Caves, the sacred python Polygamy- have many wives at one time In Umuofia, the more wives means the more wealthy and the wives and children live in their separate huts Ancestor worship When a respected person of the clan dies, they will be worshipped (Things Fall Apart By Chinua Ac.) Traditional Igbo Practices
As said in “A Glossary of Ibo Words and Phrases” of the book, “Things Fall Apart”, a chi is a personal god. An Ibo proverb used to define “chi” is: Nothing can stand alone; there must always be another thing standing beside it. So, in a sense, humans must have company too. A chi is a person’s spiritual double that links them to their ancestors, the not yet born, and the great God the Ibo refer to as Chukwu. The Ibo believe Chukwu created humankind as well as the other gods (Background on the Ibo (Historically Igbo) Culture). In the book, “Things Fall Apart”, a person’s chi determines much of a person’s success and character. As said, “But the Ibo people have a proverb that when a man says yes his chi says yes also. Okonkwo said yes very strongly, so his chi agreed. And not only his chi but his clan too, because it judged a man by the work of his hands” (27). However, one cannot challenge his chi, as referred when Okonkwo beat his wife during the Week of Peace and the priest of the earth goddess, Ezeani told him he did a terrible wrong (30-31). It is believed a chi gets the last word in decision making. A chi reminds me of the Ying Yang symbol. I believe that everyone has a good side and a bad side and they have to balance each other out. This is also like the little devil and angel that sits on people’s shoulders on TV shows and in books. The chi could also be like a person’s conscious. The conscious always has a say in your decision making and its always there to agree or disagree with you.
While researching, the most common subject to come up was the married man’s personal shrine, kept in his home, called an Ikenga (place of strength). The Iknega represents a man’s chi (link to his ancestors) and his acha (his personal power). All Ikenga have a set of horns because horns represent strength and vitality. As a man grows, he replaces his Ikenga and makes it more descriptive. A man’s Ikenga is never reused and destroyed once the man is dead (People: Married Men).
Superstitions are defined as customs or acts based on beliefs and irrational fears of what is unknown or mysterious especially in terms of religion (dictionary.com) Examples in my culture involve stepping on cracks on the sidewalk, when dropping a salt shaker, to throw salt over both shoulders, never breaking a mirror and not walking under ladders. The Ibo superstitions are: “Darkness held a vague terror for these people, even the bravest among them. Children were warned not to whistle at night for fear of evil spirits. Dangerous animals became even more sinister and uncanny in the dark. A snake was never called by its name at night, because it would hear. It was called a string” (Achebe, 9). “Ekwefi!” a voice called from one of the other huts. It was Nwoye’s mother, Okonkwo’s first wife. “Is that me?” Ekwefi called back. That was the way people answered calls from outside. They never answered yes for fear it might be an evil spirit calling” (Achebe, 41). “The wrestlers were not there yet and the drummers held the field. They too sat just in front of the huge circle of spectators, facing the elders. Behind them was the big and ancient silk-cotton tree which was sacred. Spirits of good children lived in that tree waiting to be born. On ordinary days young women who desired children came to sit under its shade” (Achebe, 46).
Ani is the earth goddess in charge of mortality; controls the fertility of people, animals, plants, and serves as a symbolic womb for the dead before they are reborn. The Ibo, who traditionally were farmers, held Ani in high regards because they depended on her for food (Background on the Igbo (historically Ibo) Culture). Ex: Unoka was asking the Oracle why his crops never were prosperous. “Every year,” he said sadly, “before I put any crop in the earth, I sacrifice a cock to Ani, the owner of all the land. It is the law of our fathers. I also kill a cock at the shrine of Ifejioku, the god of yams. I clear the bush and set fire to it when it is dry. I sow the yams when the first rain has fallen, and stake them when the young tendrils appear…”( Achebe, 17). Ani is the daughter of Chukwu, the creator of the world and of all other gods. Agbala, the Oracle of the Hills and Caves, is the voice/messenger of Ani. Although Agbala is a male, he is strongly associated with the female earth, and he is served by a priestess. Agbala has an important role in the governing of Umuofia because is pronouncements are considered unquestionable and must be carried out by the clan (Background on the Igbo (historically Ibo) Culture).
An oracle is someone who has wise information and intellect “And so the neighboring clans who naturally knew of these things feared Umuofia, and would not go to war against it without first trying a peaceful settlement. And in fairness to Umuofia it should be recorded that it never went to war unless its case was clear and just and was accepted as such by its Oracle- the Oracle of the Hills and the Caves. And there were indeed occasions when the Oracle had forbidden Umuofia to wage war. If the clan disobeyed the Oracle they would surely have been beaten because their dreaded agadi-nwayi would never fight what the Ibo call a fight of blame” (Achebe, 12). “The Oracle was called Agbala, and people came from far and near to consult it. They came when misfortune dogged their steps or when they had a dispute with their neighbors. They came to discover what the future held for them or to consult the spirits of their departed fathers” (Achebe, 16). The Ibo worship the Oracle of the Hills and the Caves They believe they have to do whatever the Oracle says or they will be punished (Things Fall Apart By Chinua Ac.) Ex: The Oracle of the Hills and the Caves has said that Ikemefuna should be killed and because the Oracle said so, all the men of Umuofia took the boy outside the village and killed him ( Achebe, 57). An oracle in today’s society would be a psychic or a priest in a Confessional.
Sacrifices are the offerings of animal, plant, or human life or of some material possession to a deity (a god or goddess) as in propitiation or homage (dictionary.com) Sacrifices were offered to the gods as well as the ancestors to honor them. Sacrifices ranged from animal down to basic fruits from trees. Animals were a symbol of spiritual, as well as the physical, means of sacrifice. The body itself is part of the living world, but it initially belongs to the spiritual realm. Sacrifices were also used to cure illness, increase fertility, and even aid in the defeat of a neighboring enemy. The death of Ikemefuna is an example of sacrifice used to avoid war over an Umuofian woman who had been killed in Mbaino (Theme Elements in Things Fall Apart) A less dramatic sacrifice would be the sacrifice of a kola nut that is offered to the gods. “I have kola,” he (Unoka) announced when he sat down, and passed the disc over to his guest. “Thank you. He who brings kola brings life. But I think you ought to break it,” replied Okoye, passing back the disc. “No, it is for you, I think,” and they argued like this for a few moments before Unoka accepted the honor of breaking the kola. Okoye, meanwhile, took the lump of chalk, drew some lines on the floor, and then painted his big toe. As he broke the kola, Unoka prayed to their ancestors for life and health, and for protection against their enemies” (Achebe, 6).